PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., –
A Gold Star Flag went on permanent display Jan. 22 at the Peterson-Schriever Garrison chapel as a visible reminder of the sacrifices of fallen service members and their families.
The ceremony marked the beginning of a relationship between Fort Carson's Survivor Outreach Services Program and other organizations that support Gold Star Families and members of U.S. Space Command.
“Gold Star Families hold a special place in our hearts,” U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander, said during the ceremony. “The symbolism of the gold star drives us all to remember our loved ones who have fallen. It’s also a badge of honor to each Gold Star Family member who stands by the legacy of their fallen son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister. There are no words to ease your loss. Yet you stand boldly, filled with compassion, resilience and patriotism. As our lost warriors remain our heroes, so too are you.”
The term “Gold Star” goes back to World War I, when families displayed small banners with a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the military, according to Military One Source. If that service member died, the blue star was replaced with a gold one, letting the “community know that their service member died or was killed while serving their country.”
“The Gold Star is a symbol of real American heroes,” Dickinson said, looking to those gathered at the chapel. “They are your loved ones, and for every fallen service member, there is a story of a Gold Star Family."
The new partnership will include volunteer opportunities for USSPACECOM within SOS at Fort Carson. The organization provides services and support to Gold Star Families in Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
SOS and other outreach services, in their mission to embrace and reassure survivors, is just one way to get involved and help “our military community,” Dickinson said. “Your support and connection with Gold Star Families is essential to our military and joint force. It is also important to recognize the significance of their great sacrifice to our nation.”
The hope is that everyone in USSPACECOM will volunteer in some way to support SOS’ and similar organizations’ efforts over time, Yelton said.
“And, it is a challenge — our challenge — to get involved with these great Americans, learn their stories and make a difference by volunteering time in service to others,” Yelton said of USSPACECOM’s involvement.
Aside from helping preserve families’ connections to the military community, SOS:
- Provides a team dedicated to providing synchronized services;
- Supplies timely and useful information to assist in reducing stress;
- Strives to be sensitive and discerning the unique and individual needs of Gold Star Families;
- Ensures Families are well informed of their entitlements; and
- Links Families to long-term services.
Dickinson called SOS a “truly magnificent organization.”
“Thanks for your support and letting us, as a new combatant command, be part of that volunteer program that takes care of these great families and supports them,” he said during the ceremony.
The Gold Star flag installed at the ceremony is a symbol that will serve as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made for freedom, Yelton said.
“As warfighters we are reminded, when looking at the Gold Star Flag, that the mission, at times, involves putting our lives on the line,” he added.
As stories are told, one is likely to hear a recurring theme, Dickinson said.
“Every one of our fallen was willing to give their all and make the ultimate sacrifice to protect and defend the United States and our allies,” Dickinson said, “and it is important we all honor their memories by supporting their family members.”
“The lasting legacy of our fallen heroes will be carried by each of you,” Dickinson said. “Please, remember them.”
USSPACECOM personnel interested in volunteering with Survivor Outreach Services may contact the USSPACECOM Chaplain’s Office at USSPACECOM.J040.Command-Chaplain@us.af.mil or 719-554-3623.